Manhole covers: art for the masses

The city will replace roughly 500 manhole covers (Kayla Byrne/AQ)
The city will replace roughly 500 manhole covers (Kayla Byrne/AQ)

Do you ever find yourself walking around Fredericton and think, “This place could use some more art”?

That’s what the city did when taking a closer look at the usually mundane manhole covers over the past several months. Sparking a call for artists to submit their artwork to replace the usual ironclad covers.

“What was resounding is that we have wonderful art institutions based here in the city where people can go and experience art,” said ward 11 city councilor Kate Rogers. “Everyone spends their leisure time in a different way so let’s just have it around us. A vibrant city has public art – and that’s what Fredericton is constantly striving to be.”

The city will replace roughly 500 manhole covers in a fiscal year and instead of hiring a professional graphic designer, an open call for art submissions was advertised throughout the city.

“If it’s a matter of buying something boring or plain why not buy something very visually interesting?” said Rogers.

The idea isn’t a new one; many cities around the world have taken part in public art initiatives like this one, including Paris, Colorado, Seattle and Vancouver.

The idea is to integrate art into everyday life, taking something that usually goes unnoticed and turning it into something noticeable.

“Right now the manhole covers have ‘Fredericton’ cast in them, we thought why not do more creative things with them?” said Rogers.

The submission deadline was March 12. Now a jury will be selected to choose the winning submission that will also receive a $1000 prize and have their artwork displayed on both sides of the river.

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